Sadly the annual service and MOT is due at the end of March for my Freelander and not long after that the Galaxy too, so in the spirit of “Peter the miser” I thought I’d look into cheaper options than my specialist garage MDP Land Rovers (Raglan) that I used last year.
It’s not that I was dissatisfied with the work they did on the Freelander, but the annual service was £246 including VAT and the MOT £54.85 and “many a mickle makes a muckle” as our Scottish friends say so I thought I ought to check out the marketplace!
A quick Google search found this internet broker called Servicing Stop which looked very interesting, especially since they had a video from Dragon’s Den which showed them getting two of the Dragon’s to invest, although there was small print saying “on the back of Servicing Stop’s successful appearance on Dragons Den, investment was eventually agreed with an industry leader from outside the panel of Dragons”, so perhaps I should have been more suspicious…
The web site itself is very easy to use and I quickly got a screen quote on the 18th February taking advantage of a 60% sale discount, which on closer inspection is actually “up to 60% off main dealer prices”. Despite this I was astonished to be quoted a full service for £107.01 including VAT and the MOT only £19 with free collection and a £1 charge for use of a debit card which would have to be paid online before delivery back.
If it’s looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t, but £127.01 appealed to my miserly tendencies instead of last years £300.85 for sure! I then received an email confirming that a booking request had been submitted to their panel of local garages, although with no confirmation of the quoted amount, but with the advice to keep a look out for an email with details of the garage that would be coming to collect the vehicle on the 1st March.
Feeling pleased with myself I put it out of my mind until the morning of 27th February when I phoned their 0800 970 9046 helpline number at 8am to say that no email had been received saying who was doing the work. At this time I got through immediately and someone took my name and reference number and promised it would be sorted, alas to no avail by late afternoon.
So feeling a little concerned I emailed their customer service only to receive a generic reply to call them as emails only had a 3 day response time! This is when I got very concerned as I couldn’t get through the call handling system that either said please hold continuously or kicked me off the call! Thank Goodness it was a freephone number but it’s strange that an internet based company relies so heavily on a call centre…
Eventually other things took priority in my life – like Alex’s birthday – but yesterday on the 28th February I finally hung on the phone grimly and eventually a very helpful lady confirmed my booking had been taken and that she would manually email me the garage details which duly arrived about an hour later.
Interestingly the email only stated the following information but with no phone number:
Servicing Stop Garage
Blaenavon MOT and Auto Centre
Now a quick internet search confirmed that the garage existed, although not quite the right full address, but at least it looked bona fide so I started relax, oh dear how wrong was I to be proved!
This morning 1st March (St David’s day here in Wales) I got up early ready for the arranged pickup which could be any time between 8am-10am with the delivery back any time between 4pm-6pm great I though. The Freelander was parked on the drive next to the house with the locking wheel nut and service book ready to be stamped!
Unfortunately I believe what’s very attractive to customers i.e. the price I suspect is not to garages that earn far more from securing business directly. After waiting up from 7.45am to 10.15am the pickup failed to materialise despite me taking a leisurely breakfast in our front kitchen-diner next to the drive where the vehicle was parked.
At 10.20 I called the freephone number again to enquire what was happening. On my third attempt I got through to a helpful person again who called the garage to find out what was going on while I was on hold, who told me the garage had said there was no car there and no-one answered the door when they rang at 8.30am…
Both untrue, I guess they had more profitable work they wanted to work on, but all they offered was a pickup tomorrow so I cancelled being totally fed up. I think there’s a glitch in Service Stop’s business processes, as well as their business model. For me, living in Wales, my experience would say “avoid”, maybe it works OK in London I don’t know. One thing I do know though is that I shall definitely avoid the Blaenavon MOT and Auto Centre!
MDP are picking the car up next Monday LOL!